The answer for sceptics
‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked.
‘Come and see’, said Philip. (John 1:46, NIV)
Nathanael is sceptical. His neighbour Philip tells him he’s found the Messiah. “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” But to Nathanael, it doesn’t add up. From Nazareth? It’s too ordinary.
Wouldn’t we expect this great one to come from either Jerusalem (the seat of the kings of Judah) or Bethlehem (the home town of their family)?
Philip has a simple answer to this scepticism: Come and see (John 1:46). And so Nathanael meets Jesus - and discovers to his amazement that the Man from Nazareth really is the Messiah.
John has recorded this as an invitation to the reader. He speaks as an eye-witness of the momentous events of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. As he writes his gospel, John, too, is saying to us “Come and see”.
This is John’s answer to the sceptic. For so often it’s the case that those who reject Christ simply haven’t really investigated. They live on second-hand information. The gospels were written centuries after the events they portray. The Bible is full of contradictions. There is no real evidence for Jesus. His teaching is nice but really irrelevant. He’s a pale Galilean, out to spoil our fun. Christianity is about trying to be good for God.
We can naively assume that people reject Jesus after careful investigation. But how many of those who reject him have actually read a gospel?
Speaking personally, it was only when I did ‘come and see’, in other words investigate the Jesus of the gospels for myself, that I realised that I’d been rejecting a caricature, and hadn’t really understood the person and work of Jesus at all.
Ask an atheist to tell you about the god they don’t believe in! You may find it’s rather different from the true God, made known in Jesus.
So John sets before us this invitation - to investigate, with an open mind, ourselves. This is the answer for sceptics.
The carol services this coming month are all opportunities to ‘come and see’.
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